1 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
a stranger, and not your own lips.
3 A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
7 One who is full loathes honey,
but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.
8 Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home.
9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
that I may answer him who reproaches me.
12 The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it.
13 Take a man’s garment when he has put up security for a stranger,
and hold it in pledge when he puts up security for an adulteress. – Proverbs 27:1-13 ESV
Let’s face it. Relationships are messy. Living with others can be difficult at times. But there is a huge advantage to living in true biblical community. And the Proverbs have a lot to say about the impact of wisdom and foolishness on our relationships. While we can attempt to isolate ourselves from interaction with others, no one lives in a vacuum. And, whether we like it or not, we will eventually end up dealing with people from all walks of life and from every conceivable background. Even a few fools will cross our path as we navigate our way through life.
But this chapter continues to differentiate between the wise and the foolish, describing how each displays certain characteristics – some to be emulated and others to be avoided.
When it comes to relationships, a fool is self-centered, myopic, and tends to only think about himself. He lives his life with a certain level of insensitivity and never thinks about how his words and actions will impact those around him. In fact, he doesn’t even care. Because of their self-focused manner of life, fools tend to think too highly of themselves and have a distorted view of reality. That’s why the wise person should heed the following advice.
Don’t brag about tomorrow,
since you don’t know what the day will bring
Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:1-2 NLT
Instead, a man or woman of wisdom should readily accept their responsibility to care about and for those around them, and they should live accordingly.
Fools tend to leave a wake of disrupted relationships in their path. They are relationship wreckers who allow resentment, anger, and jealousy to wreak havoc on all those around them.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
but the resentment caused by a fool is even heavier.
Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood,
but jealousy is even more dangerous. – Proverbs 27:3-4 NLT
Those who care about community understand that words are powerful. They know that there will be times when words of encouragement are needed, but also times when a word of warning or rebuke is necessary. In a healthy relationship, to withhold a much-deserved rebuke is as wrong as refusing to express our love verbally.
An open rebuke
is better than hidden love! – Proverbs 27:5 NLT).
While correction and criticism are never easy to receive, a true friend will care enough about us to tell us the hard truth.
Wounds from a sincere friend
are better than many kisses from an enemy. – Proverbs 27:6 NLT)
Fools make a habit of telling others what they want to hear. They use flattery to win others over but never truly mean what they say. And while a fool will butter someone up by telling them how wonderful they are, they will overlook the faults that are preventing that person from being who God wants them to be. False flattery is deadly. It puffs us up and gives us a false sense of confidence and feeds our self-righteousness. But a true friend will tell us the truth, even if it hurts.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17 NLT
Friendships should involve some friction but it should be productive and not destructive. As we rub up against one another in our relationships there should be a certain give-and-take that allows us to push, prod, and pull each other towards increased righteousness.
But if we are honest, we have to admit that many of our relationships are shallow and dishonest. We refuse to speak the truth into one another’s lives. We openly tolerate godlessness and flatter one another with words of kindness when what we really need is a swift kick in the pants and a dose of reality.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend
is as sweet as perfume and incense. – Proverbs 27:9 NLT
Yet, many of us are afraid to play hardball in our relationships because we fear what others may say about how we live our lives. We’re afraid that if we critique someone else’s life, it will leave the door open for them to return the favor. And, most likely, they will. But we should welcome it.
The truth is, most of us have no idea what we’re really like. We can’t see our faults and weaknesses. Our foolish friends will leave us thinking we don’t have any. But a true friend will point them out in a loving, caring way, and help us take steps to correct them. They are able to see the true condition of our hearts, something we can’t do on our own. ”
As a face is reflected in water,
so the heart reflects the real person. – Proverbs 27:19 NLT
We need one another. We need real relationships that produce real-life change. True biblical community is messy. It involves transparency, accountability, honesty, humility, patience and love. It takes work, but it is worth it. Cultivating true community has long-term, real-life benefits.
Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s.
When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance.
It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. – Proverbs 27:10 NLT
You never know when you will need the help or counsel of a true friend. Life is full of all kinds of surprises and, in times of difficulty, you want to be surrounded by those who can step in and help. But you’ll want to make sure you’ve surrounded yourself with wise friends and not fools.
A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. – Proverbs 27:12 NLT
Prepare for the inevitable setbacks in life and maintain ongoing relationships with people who can provide wise counsel when you need it. In times of difficulty, a few friends with wisdom are of far greater value than a host of fools who lack sense. Life is too short and relationships are too important to waste your time cultivating friendships with fools.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.